File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0101, message 78

Subject: HAB: Habermas and Psychoanaysis - redux
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 23:35:10 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Well... things slowed down there after the interruption... but in the last 
couple weeks I've come to a certain kind of clarification in my own thinking. 
As I've indicated, I'm critical of Habermas distinction between instrumental 
and communicative action - in particular - the priority he gives to normativity 
of communicative action (in the form of a procedural rationality). Drawing on 
Lacan, I think an 'alternative' reading of language and communication can be 
offered, one that does justice to the alterity of language and the imaginary 
quality of the ego. Although hypothetical, and certainly part of ongoing 
analyses of communicative action and psychoanalysis, if a case can be made, 
then the normative core of Habermas's moral theory of discourse will fail in 
its claim of universality. This is obviously quite serious for the future of 
critical theory after the linguistic turn, and Habermas's deliberative model in 

However, I do think that Habermas's 'emancipatory interest' can be reworked in 
psychoanalytic terms... via Lacan's notion of objet petit a (the object cause 
of desire) along the lines of "don't give up on your desire" - which 'demands' 
that desire not 'surrender' itself in resignation. Focusing on this would 
provide an 'emancipatory interest' that is neither anthropological nor 
'embedded' directly into language as an 'always-already.'

In effect, I think it is worth pursuing the line of inquiry that Habermas 
canned after the publication of Knowledge and Human Interests (where he 
'collapsed' the distinctly emancipatory interest of critical theory into his 
theory of communication) [Habermas had good reason to do so... but I think 
his point can be salvaged, although not through the path that he's taken].

I'd thought a lot about Gary's comment that research into psychoanalysis is a 
historical investigation... but now, after thinking about it some more, I 
really do think Habermas's earlier work takes on a new relevance. What if his 
earlier work can be defended... is there a position that avoids the same traps 
he points out in KHI (postivism, historicism, subjectivism, objectivism) 
without taking a strict formalist / reconstructivist approach?


PS. On the Pragmstics of Social Interaction (2001) translated by Barbara 
Fultner has appeared just in time!

Here's a chapter breakdown:

1971	Reflections on the Linguistic Foundation of Sociology: The Christian 
Gauss Lecture (Objectivist and Subjectivist Approaches to Theory Formation in 
the Social Sciences; The Phenomenological Constitutive Theory of Society; From 
a Constitutive Theory to a Communicative Theory of Society; Universal 
Pragmatics; Truth and Society)
1976	Intentions, Conventions, and Linguistic Interactions
1974	Reflections on Communicative Pathology

The last essay (1974) is particularly fascinating for those interested in 
psychoanalysis... and I must admit, the more recent translations, the ones 
which liberally include German references / terms in brackets... THANK YOU!!!

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